Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready, Set ... Revise

Here’s the deal: Ready, Set, Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability. Plus, it provides an opportunity for writers to cheer each other on—whether they’re planning, drafting, revising, and/or polishing a story. The event is hosted by Alison Miller, Jaime Morrow, Erin Funk, and Katy Upperman.

Nailed ’em. Just kidding. I didn’t have any goals last week because I was completely swamped with Real Life stuff. That’s infinitely less exciting than fictional stuff, so I feel like I’ve been justly punished for slacking.

I just got back one last set of notes on my YA sci-fi mystery, so this week is all about that WIP:

  • Revise Mystery WIP based on beta notes
  • Do one last read of Mystery WIP to make sure it’s in the best possible shape.
  • Do one last revision of Mystery WIP query
  • Bonus goal: Determine first five agents to query with Mystery WIP next week. 

Considering all of my past RSW updates have been about the fantasy I’m planning, I’ll go with that. Here are a couple images that best describe the world-building I did over the past week.

Clearly everything. With the new job, it’s been a bit harder to meet self-imposed WIP deadlines. I might be going too easy on myself but I’m also trying not to overdo it as my wrists heal.

I haven’t started writing my fantasy story yet, but one thing I love about it is the idea of identity. My main characters live double lives, and I want to get at the ways they’re different based on the situation or who they’re with and whether they even know which is their true self. They’re going to have to deal with a lot of emotions connected to discovering who they are, like guilt, shame, and pride. And hopefully I can pull it off.

How’s your planning/writing/revising going?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ready, Set, Write! (Or, More Accurately: Ready, Set, Keep Brainstorming And Maybe You'll Get There!)

Hello, Internet peoples.

Funny meeting you here. I was just saying how my blog’s been sort of a ghost town since my wrists started hurting and I took a little hiatus from posting. This is what getting old looks like.

I suggest you avoid it.

Anyhow, I’m still doing Ready, Set, Write, though I’m going about as fast as a snail stuck in tar. So I’m ditching the goals I set back when I thought my wrist pain would go away quickly and adopting a “do as much of this as you can before your wrists begin to throb” mentality. I’m sure my doctor would approve.

Speaking of my doctor, the good news is that I don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome. I hear that’s a beast to beat. The doctor’s not exactly sure what I have, but she thinks it might either be inflammation in the wrist joint (you know, that little dip just above your wrist bones) or tendonitis. I’m on anti-inflammatories now, so cross your fingers it kicks this pain so I can write for longer than five minutes at a time.

Anyhow, because of all of this wrist nonsense, I still haven’t finished world-building my fantasy story. YES, THAT IS A TRUE STATEMENT. WOULD I KID YOU ABOUT THIS? NO, I ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT. I did say I was going slow…

Anyhow, this week I’m hoping to finish brainstorming and writing out the social structure for my four kingdoms.

Because I’m just world-building and brainstorming the plot, I don’t have a line to share. How about a photo that inspired my main character, Asta?

How are your writing projects coming along?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

One, Two, Three Release

Today’s a big day. Not for me. For me, today’s a regular Thursday, part great because it’s almost Friday and part not so great because there’s still a whole lot of workday left before the weekend.

But today’s a big day for my friend Elodie Nowodazkij, whose debut YA novel One, Two, Three releases today. I’m so excited for you guys to read this. First, a summary:
When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love. 
Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive. 
But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career. 
At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell. 
But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself. 
Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?
The blurb really gets at the romance aspect of the book—and since it’s a contemporary romance, the relationship is a major focus—but what I loved most was Nata’s struggles with her family. Much of the book is her coming to grips with her father’s death, dealing with an alcoholic mother, and a some other personal issues I won’t get into because, well, spoilers.

I also have to mention Nata best friend, who was one of my favorite characters in the book. She was such a great support for Nata, and I loved the history they shared as well as the way they worked through issue with their relationship.

And, of course, I loved Camilo, Tonio’s gang member ex-best friend. This should be a given, considering I always tend to love the antagonists. I’ll be honest, there were times I liked him more than Tonio, and not because I wanted Nata to end up with him (don’t’ worry there’s no love triangle) but because I loved the layers to his character. I really felt for the guy and how he really couldn’t get out of his own way.

In short, congratulations, Elodie, on the release of a book that’s one part heartbreaking, two parts sweet, and three parts completely satisfying.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ready, Set, Write: Update and New Goals

It is the second week of Ready, Set, Write, and I was thisclose to skipping an update today, which makes me pretty pathetic. I would blame my wrist, which is sore after a weekend of writing, but laziness accounts for at least half of it.

But not to worry! I gave myself a mini pep talk that included phrases like “Go get ’em, Champ!” (because clearly Tracey in pep talk mode is the father of a young T-ball player), and as a result I am ready to give you guys an update on my Ready, Set, Write progress and goals.

So, last week my goal was to brainstorm the following details for each of the countries in my fantasy world: language, ethics and values, religion, population, government, politics, and the crime and legal system.

Aw, how cute was I a week ago thinking I could complete all that? Really adorable. Like a puppy that runs full steam ahead into a closed glass door. I stopped at ethics and values. Feel free to laugh. S’okay.

Which brings me to my next news: I got a promotion! I’m super excited about it, but while I move into my new role I’ll probably have less time to work on this new story. Which means I need to adjust my goals for the summer, lest I end up completely depressed by my inability to hit my targets.

So this week I’m setting a very small goal: Brainstorm the following details for each of the countries in my fantasy world: religion and population. It’s not much, but I’m swamped at work and I’d hate to underachieve again this week.

One other order of business! My query for my YA sci-fi mystery is up for critique on Matt MacNish’s blog. If you get a moment and feel like ripping something to shreds, head over there and let me know your thoughts!

Alright, friends, what’s your writing status update?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ready, Set, Write: Week 1 Goals

Last summer, I wrote a book. I wrote it fast—faster than I anticipated—and I take absolutely zero credit for the motivation that made me open Scrivener every night. That goes to Ready, Set, Write, a summer writing intensive hosted by Katy Upperman, Alison Miller, Jaime Morrow, and Erin Funk. Thanks to the constant Twitter writing parties, I hit wrote like I was running on coffee spiked with Red Bull.

That’s why I’m participating again this year. For me, accountability equals words. Lots of ’em. RSW starts today, so here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this time around:

World-building: I’m still building the world for the fantasy novel I plan to write. I could write the book, then go back and add details, but for my last WIP I did a ton of pre-work and I think that’s part of the reason my story worked. So I’m planning to spend many RSW nights hammering out the details of my world.

Outlining: I always thought I was a pantser until I outlined my mystery WIP and realize how much better my writing was when I planned ahead. As much as I want to jump right in, I’m going to force myself to outline this time, too. I’ll thank myself when it comes time to revise and my notes consist of more than THIS ALL SUCKS—REDO.

Writing: I’m hoping to begin the actual writing of this project before the end of the summer, though I know I’ll be moving at a slower pace than I did last year. My wrists still hurt, so I can’t work for as long as I’m used to. On the plus side, setting lower goals will make me feel more accomplished—said underachievers everywhere...

As for specifics, here are my goals for this week:

Brainstorm the following details for each of the countries in my fantasy world: language, ethics and values, religion, population, government, politics, and the crime and legal system. (If you’re curious, this is the checklist of prompts I’m using to answer questions about my world. It’s super detailed, but incredibly helpful.)

What are your writing/revising goals this week?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy Release Day, Push Girl

I am wearing a party hat.

I am wearing a party hat, which I don’t do for just anyone because that string really starts to itch after a while and I start to feel a little ridiculous and the hat always slides down my head as if my skull is roller coaster–shaped. But I’m wearing it because one of my friends is celebrating the release of her book and I am festive on her behalf.

Today I can finally buy Jessica Love’s YA novel Push Girl, co-written by Chelsie Hill. I love that this is about a girl disabled after an accident. I can’t wait to read about a girl who’s paralyzed from the waist down and stuck in a wheelchair—no miraculous recovery but a pretty sucky situation that this teen’s forced to deal with.

Kara is a high school junior who’s loving life. She’s popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she’s a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can’t stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can’t seem to leave her alone, Kara won’t let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It’s Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she’s crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver’s side of Kara’s car. 
When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly, why can’t she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren’t who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn’t what happens to you—it’s the choices you make and the people you love.
Because Jessica is a former YA Confidential operative, we’re giving away a hardcover copy of the book. Check out the giveaway here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: The Love List

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk for like-minded writers to meet and encourage one another. Everything you ever wanted to know about it (now, with 50 percent more!) is right here.

What I’m Reading: Against my better judgment,* I picked up Falling Kingdoms, which had been in my TBR pile for ages and for some reason pushed down. I knew this was a bad idea because the third book doesn’t come out until December and Goodreads tells me there will be a fourth book, which may as well release another million years from now. After reading the second book, Rebel Spring, I am impatient for the follow-up and will probably fall into old patterns some time around its release. Still, it’s a good series, one I recommend for YA fantasy fans.

What I’m Writing: I’m still brainstorming this fantasy idea, which is equal parts exciting and daunting. A long time ago I read a post by author Susan Dennard, who suggested keeping a list of the reasons you love the story—essentially a record of why you want to write this story specifically. (It will supposedly come in handy during that 20K mark when I will undoubtedly begin to wonder why I thought writing this was a good idea and whether I should just give up and take up a less demoralizing hobby, like collecting stamps.) Here’s mine so far:

A strong-willed princess
A knight who hates himself
A boy priest
Secret identities
People painted in shades of gray
Icy lands and hot springs
Strong mother-daughter relationship
Broken hearts
Fierce warriors
Myth and magic

What’s Inspiring Me: Possibly the most helpful guide to world-building I’ve ever seen, this checklist by Patricia C. Wrede has been invaluable as I create my kingdoms. Seriously—it asks the questions I didn’t even think of. If you’re a planner and writing sci-fi or fantasy, it’s definitely worth a glance.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’m preparing for a massive TV-watching session this weekend with my sister. We’ve both missed the past few episodes of Orphan Black, which we binge watched a few weeks ago. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a women who discovers she’s a clone. Each clone is played by the same actress, Tatiana Maslany, who seriously amazes me with her ability to turn each of these characters into women who feel so different from one another. She’s absolutely brilliant.

And that’s about it for me.

What’s new with you?

* The lack of a second e in the word judgment is one of the greatest mysteries in my world. In all my many years, I have never successfully typed that word correctly the first time I’ve used it. I stand firm in my conviction that it should be spelled judgement.